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Oklahoma wildfires: Noble neighbors work to deal with what remains of their burned homes

Oklahoma wildfires: Residents in rural southeast Cleveland County deal with aftermath of wildfire that burns through 7,900 acres over the weekend.
by Andrew Knittle Modified: August 6, 2012 at 11:18 pm •  Published: August 6, 2012

A badly burned body was pulled from a house in the area Saturday.

Statewide, thousands and thousands of acres have burned as extreme drought conditions persist, making the possibility of more wildfires likely in the coming weeks.

Family's home leveled

Neal Wood, a longtime resident of Noble and the surrounding area, lost the home he shares with his wife, daughter and granddaughter.

Wood lives in the same neighborhood as Jones.

All that was left of Wood's two-story home was piles of ash and the misshapen remnants of appliances and file cabinets.

His daughter, Melissa Wood, went through the ash and pulled ceramic doll parts from the ground.

Sheets of melted aluminum and lead are a testament to the intensity of the fire.

“It has to get pretty hot to melt aluminum,” Neal Wood said.

Like Jones, the Woods have insurance and plan to rebuild.

“We lived here 18 years,” Neal Wood said.

“It's hard to come home and see your house like that, absolutely. But we plan to rebuild and change the style of the house.”

The Woods lost three indoor dogs to the wildfire. Five outside dogs were able to survive, somehow finding a place to ride out the firestorm that left trees resembling large pieces of charcoal.

Neal Wood said he had never been fearful of wildfires before Friday, although a nearby forest of red cedar trees had always concerned him.

“Never thought much about wildfires,” he said. “But we can see what they do. It's wrenching, I guess you could say.”

The Woods said they already had received a check to rebuild their home. Neal Wood said a temporary trailer is expected to arrive soon to give them a place to stay while a new residence is built.

“It's like losing a family member or a loved one,” he said. “When you first see it … it's kind of unbelievable.

“But we are luckier than most. We'll be OK.”

by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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